This is what usually goes through our mind when it starts to get tough, when it becomes a struggle.
The full extent of what your body can do can be excruciating when exercising. It’s so much easier to forgo dropping right into the squat when landing after the jump of a burpee. It’s so much easier to only kick back my legs only 70% instead of 100% when completing that burpee.
Why would I do a pushup all the way down until my nose almost touches the ground when I can do more if I only lower myself 80% of the way.
Why would I bring my knees up to my waist when doing high knees when I can do the same by only bringing them up 3/4 of the way.
Why would you? I’m going to let you know why. Because it’s harder. And because it’s harder it benefits you even if you do less (you’ll do less in the same amount of time because it requires more work).
You would think that doing more is better because that is how we think. Doing more must be better. But by compromising the principle of the exercise by not executing full range of motion you are not developing strength throughout the full range of the motion. You are strengthening only the part of the muscle used during the load you are applying. You are not developing strength in your muscles that would support you when you are in those positions you are avoiding.
And sometimes this is when injuries happen. When you lower that knee to pick something up and you go to get up, when you have to move quickly from an awkward position and you push forward. You wish the injury didn’t happen. You wish at that point that you were stronger.
Developing strength throughout the whole range of motion is as simple as exercising throughout the whole range of motion. That’s it. It’s harder and it can suck but it’s worth it. You’ll be strong no matter what position your body is in. Prevent injury, be strong no matter when, no matter what the situation.
When your brain is telling you to give it only 80%, tell it to go away.
You are worth more, you are worth going all the way, 100%. Don’t give any less.
It’s become easy to blur reality from fiction, to believe the false narratives that are often pushed onto us. We live in a world where to find and understand the truth of something requires us to do our own work and through that work come to our logical, not emotional, truths. Blogs, social media, traditional media have become tools used by industries to push their agenda which is higher profits, not health.
I want to use a recent example to highlight my point. This should show how we as people react emotionally instead of logically when someone challenges, even subtlely, our long-held beliefs.
If you watched the Oscars and stayed up late enough to catch the acceptance speech for best actor in a movie you would have seen Joaquin Pheonix lay out some truths. In my opinion, he very eloquently explained how we as a species are exploiting other species, and each other, because we have become disconnected from the natural world and tend to live in an egocentric world. We believe we are the centre of the universe and we have the right to plunder the natural world for its resources. We fear the idea of personal change because we think we may need to sacrifice something.
Joaquin used those words along with words explaining how we do this with cows because we think we need their milk. It wasn’t a speech where he condemned people who use dairy, harshly condemns the farmers who work in the industry, no, he very passionately explained that we do these things not because we have to but because we continue to unnecessarily put ourselves first, no matter what the cost. It was very much a speech highlighting our innate attitude that we have this belief that we have the right to dominate others, use and control another with impunity. We do this with people but people have the ability to talk back and challenge us. The animals we exploit don’t have a voice, don’t have a way to stand up for themselves. They are helpless to act against these things we do to them.
His words were delivered very calmly, well-articulated and without ego. Yet the responses were quick and filled with vitriol, hate, malice. Ad hominem attacks from farmers instead of providing evidence contrary to what was said. Facts were presented such as cows are artificially inseminated so we can drink their milk, calves are separated from their moms so we can drink their milk. Mom cows cry in pain and anguish when this happens yet none of the farmers denied this or provided evidence stating otherwise. Because they couldn’t so they resorted to attacking the person who gave the message. An Op Ed piece in the New York Post branded him a disgrace. Here’s what one rancher, The Meat Lady, had to say: “I think Joaquin Phoenix is a pompous, entitled, first-world, out of touch, value signaling troll, and rewearing a suit and throwing shade at cows shouldn’t make him an environmental expert.” And this from Bryn Davies, who shared a video of himself drinking a glass of milk, captioning it: “Let’s raise our glass to the biggest flog on twitter [flog is Australian slang for a contemptible, often arrogant person].”
Again, no rebuttal using facts but instead attacking someone’s character.
If you really take in what was said, it is social commentary more so than an attack on farming. I’ve taken part of the speech that is being criticized to show this:
“I think at times we feel or are made to feel that we champion different causes. But for me, I see commonality. I think, whether we’re talking about gender inequality or racism or queer rights or indigenous rights or animal rights, we’re talking about the fight against injustice.
I think we’ve become very disconnected from the natural world. Many of us are guilty of an egocentric world view, and we believe that we’re the centre of the universe. We go into the natural world and we plunder it for its resources. We feel entitled to artificially inseminate a cow and steal her baby, even though her cries of anguish are unmistakable. Then we take her milk that’s intended for her calf and we put it in our coffee and our cereal.“
I believe if you are honest with yourself and look at what it is we do as a society today, and historically, you cannot help but agree with this. We do this in many ways animal agriculture is one of them. It is said someone’s character can be measured on how they treat those who can’t speak up for themselves, those who don’t have a voice and of course those they believe to be below themselves.
And the sad thing is there is no need to continue to do these things. Many, many, many studies show that we can thrive healthily without consuming animal products. Many people are doing this too. Joaquin himself has been doing this since age 3.
If we are compassionate people, if we care about those around us no matter what species, then we need to show this through our actions. No one is asking people to drastically change their lives, but to make changes that have an impact and are manageable. In fact, here is the definition of veganism from the Vegan Society:
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
As far as possible and practicable. It’s important to understand that. It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your world upside down to have an impact. Want to make a change? Instead of reaching out and grabbing the box of cows milk, move your hand 8 feet in the other direction and grab the Almond, Soy, Oat milk. Trust me, you won’t notice a difference, really.
If we are not able to treat the most vulnerable with compassion, how can we do that with others?
Lastly, if you have doubts about what are the practices in the dairy industry, watch this. WARNING: it’s very upsetting.
Somethings are looked at as ugly, a nuisance, good for nothing. Take the dandelion, a weed by most people’s definition that is nothing but a pain in the ass. Having to pull the dandelions out of the ground because they offer no value and take away from your nice manicured front lawn. Yet if you are of Italian descent you might be thinking of making a nice dandelion wine from those ‘weeds’. It wasn’t until the 20th century with the invention of lawns did the dandelion get demonized. Before that grass was cleared to grow dandelions because of their medicinal and magical benefits and also a great source of food. With the need of having to have a beautiful front lawn the dandelion was doomed.
Just recently I came across information that another ‘weed’, the duckweed (specifically the Mankai duckweed) has been shown to possibly be the only plant that has the vitamin B12 readily available in it. Water lentils, or Duckweed, is also a source of high quality protein and studies have also shown that it does very well in managing glucose levels. Sounds almost like a super food.
What is Duckweed? If you have come across ponds that don’t have a lot of water movement, and it’s covered in green stuff kind of looking like tiny green lentils than you have more than likely seen Duckweed. And much like the dandelion, this is why people hate Duckweed. But hate it at your own parrel. Let’s look at some interesting facts about Duckweed:
Can double in just 16 hours to 2 days
Cost effective renewable energy as biofuel
Natural water filter
Prevents algae growth
and food for humans
Pretty impresive, isn’t it. But let’s focus on the B12 vitamin aspect. If you know your B12 you might be thinking that duckweed is high in B12 because it’s been sitting on top of a pond soaking in all that bacteria. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Analysis has shown that the Duckweed’s B12 is naturally occurring, not the result of sitting on top of a pond that is bacteria laden. This is great news in that you can harvest Duckweed by growing it in controlled environments.
But think of it. A plant that contains in just 100 grams over 750% of your daily B12 requirement. THIS IS HUGE! Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue with supplementing B12 but I think this might be the new response to eating a plant based diet and having to discuss B12 needs and where B12 comes from. “Where do you get your B12 from…” is one of the arguments people use when they find out you are vegan and there is a lot of misinformation out there being perpetuated endlessly. Let’s look at a frequent guess on the Joe Rogan Experience, Chris Kresser. If Joe Rogan wasn’t an honorable person in inviting one of the producers of The Game Changers onto his show to debate Chris following Chris’ ‘debunking’ of the documentary The Game Changers we would have never had heard Chris admit he was factually incorrect on his points on B12. There still is a strong belief that B12 is made by animals, which we know it isn’t, it’s a bacteria found in soil and in ponds.
A plant based, renewable source of B12, protein, and other vitamins and minerals that can double it’s volume in as quickly as 16 hours! This could be the new soy in the sense that it should be readily available and inexpensive to grow as it can be grown in a controlled environment.
I’m excited about this. A naturally occurring source of B12 and other nutrients. Who knows, maybe this is something I can grow myself and harvest my own Duckweed. It might be worth some looking into.
I’ve been a fitness enthusiast for quite a number of years and I’ve been a certified personal trainer for the last 5 years.
I’ve been asked for advice, given advice and followed my own advice for many different questions, goals and for many different people in different stages of their lives. Knowing this, can you guess what I think would be the most important item of advice I could give someone? Any ideas?
If I had no choice but to advise someone of only one thing they should do to improve their level of fitness it would be consistency.
You could have the best workout plan going, given to you by the best fitness expert ever known but if you aren’t executing it, it isn’t going to help you. You can have the best nutrition expert provide you with the best dishes to eat but if you aren’t eating these, it isn’t going to help you.
I’d rather have someone ‘show up’ as it were on a regular basis, let’s say 3x a week and work out at 80% exertion than to show up once a week and give it 100%. The person who shows up 3x a week will end up being the person who shows up 3x a week for most of the year. Why, because this has now become part of their routine, their day to day. I think this is why it’s important that we get kids involved in something they like that is physical. They are more likely to grow up incorporating physical activity into their lives.
So let’s look again at the person who is consistent and puts in about 80% of their max. They’re working their heart, their muscles, mobility, flexibility and I think most importantly they are not on the couch but out being active. They are developing a routine that keeps the body moving, the blood pumping and the muscles working. And with proper coaching and over some time I’m sure this person could be convinced to do some of their workouts at a higher output. But regardless they are being active for a good part of the week, and thus a good part of the month, the year, etc.
I know this myself. Let’s just say I’m a regular at my dojo. It’s so much of my routine that when I’m not there it feels weird, strange, like something is missing or out of place. This is the feeling that people need to keep at their hobby that is a physical hobby. I use the word hobby because it should be like a hobby, something you want to do and look forward to doing. If it isn’t, then you need to look at doing something else. If the mind is not engaged it’s only a matter of time before you’ll stop.
That’s it. Consistency. Show up as much as you can reasonably show up. Make it your routine. Make it part of your day to day.
Now, keep in mind this post is written in the context that I can choose only one thing. There are other important things too but if you don’t show up, what’s the point?
Who doesn’t like to hear the justification of their bad habits? Who doesn’t like hearing that something they do that is generally considered a bad thing to do for their health is now ok? Everybody likes to hear positive news about something they are doing that has come into question is ok to do, and not just ok but so ok that you can keep doing it. On the heels of the digital release of the first commercial movie to look at the performance side of eating a whole foods plant based diet, ‘The Game Changers‘, comes a study concluding that there is no harm in eating red meat. In fact is says red meat is healthy.
Where do I start? I believe the meat/dairy/animal agriculture industry is at the same stage years ago the tobacco industry was at. Sowing seeds of doubt. When the tobacco industry started to lose money as studies started to show the dangers of smoking the industry started to fund studies to sew the seeds of doubt that smoking is dangerous to your health.
“Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the “body of fact” that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”
I’m seeing the same thing now. Butter is back, carbs are bad and fat is good, and so on. Industry funded studies to keep people guessing. The animal agriculture industry is scared. It’s losing market share and losing money. More people are ditching dairy and more people are switching to meat alternatives such as Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger. Bristol England’s oldest pub has just launched a plant based menu and it’s selling out!
But their strategy is also working. People don’t have the time and they don’t want to make the time. Most people don’t have an issue with eating animals and animal products. We have become so disassociated with how our food comes to the table that people don’t even think about it. And most people don’t care to question it. They look at it that they are doing nothing different than what their mom/dad/grandma/grandpa did. And when people hear about the new study that what they are doing is healthy it helps to cement their beliefs and helps them to double down when that vegan brings up health issues due to eating animals.
So back to the study. I’m sure you heard about it, right? Did you also hear that it got slammed by experts in the health field? Professor Walter Willet, a professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author of the EAT-Lancet Commission which advocates a plant based diet for both environmental sustainability and health had this to say:
“This report has layers of flaws and is the most egregious abuse of evidence that I have ever seen.”
The World Cancer Research Fund does not accept the study’s new interpretation of the evidence either.
Here’s another look at the study from Dr Giota Mitrou, Director of Research Funding and Science External Relations: “It could be putting people at risk by suggesting they can eat as much red and processed meat as they like without increasing their risk of cancer.”
It has since been discovered that lead researcher Bradley C. Johnston, who disclosed that during the past three years he didn’t have any ‘conflicts of interest’ to report.
“as recently as December 2016, Dr. Johnston was the senior author on a study which was paid for by food industry giant International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), who are ‘largely supported’ by companies such as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Mars, and Cargill – one of North America’s biggest beef processors.”
But you didn’t hear any of this, did you. You wouldn’t because it will never make the media. You have to look for this information and it can be a lot of work, too much work for most people. Sewing the seeds of doubt.
Will things change? Will the animal agriculture business fade away as more reports on the health issues, climate issues associated with the industry make it’s way to the mainstream media? I don’t know. We may be at the very beginning of change and who knows how long the change will take.
If you find doubt creeping into your mind, use common sense, use logic. Look at the blue zones, areas in the world that are predominantly plant based and the longest living. Then look at the standard western diet areas, the areas with the highest disease rates.
If you have not read my previous post then this post may not make much sense. So before you read this, go here and read this one first.
In my last post I wrote about lower back pain and what newer research is concluding regarding what may be causing it. As promised, this is the follow up post and I want to use this post to go over what you can do if you are suffering from lower back pain caused by stress on your thoracolumbar fascia.
Let’s look at the 3 common items I covered last post that can distress the thoracolumbar fascia and cause back pain and what can be done to address them:
Dehydration: Simple. Drink more water and also consume foods that are high in water content. If your urine is dark in colour, not light like straw you are dehydrated. Check out this link to read up on the colour of your pee. If you are very active or sweat a lot, you have to consume more water. And if you can, please stay away from bottled water. The huge negative impact on our environment and also to yourself for something that is in the ground under your feet, comes out of your taps and is pretty much available anywhere for free. If you are concerned about the safety of your water you can purchase water filtering kits for your home or elsewhere. It doesn’t make sense environmentally and economically for you to purchase water pulled from the ground, transported, put into plastic (a byproduct of oil) bottles, transported again to the store for you to pay for. If you would like more info on the environmental and health impacts of bottled water check out the links.
Lifting: “Lift with your legs, not your back otherwise you could injure your thoracolumbar fascia!” That’s it. Lift properly. Not only heavy things but all things. Lifting something incorrectly that’s not that heavy may not cause discomfort but it may cause distress and over time, doing the same thing, that distress can add up and lead to an injury that requires time off of work, time away from the fun things you like doing. When lifting, don’t bend over at the waist. Bend your legs, look forward or even up, keep you back straight, weight on the heels and lift using the muscles in your legs. If you feel the load is too much for you, get someone else to lift it!
Sitting: When at work, be sure to get yourself a desk that can go from a normal sitting position to standing position. If you think about it, why do we sit in chairs at work? How long have people been doing this? For years! Way back when offices were created, long before computers, we lived in different times. The boss, the company held all the power (ok, that hasn’t changed all that much over the years). No sick days, no going home because your back is sore. Also, that work did not involve having your hands out in front of you using a computer. So why do we still use technology today that is from over a hundred years ago? It makes no sense! We know the more we sit the worse it is for us. And for as little as a couple of hundred dollars you can get a device that will allow you to stand and sit while using a computer. Keep this in mind too, the damage isn’t only done over a long time frame, short term consequences can have long term impacts too. Short term is a relative term but it can be as long as 5 years. If you work for 45 years 5 years is about only 11% of that time frame. And don’t let the boss make you feel like a snowflake asking for this. It’s 2019 for f*cks sake! Our workspaces shouldn’t look like they did back in 1919. If you need to, put together your arguments on why this will benefit your boss. At the end of the day when you are gone working somewhere else for whatever reason, you will still have the back you have while your boss will not really give two sh*ts.
Hot baths, hot water bottle, heating pad are great for bringing heat and thus increasing blood flow to the injured area which should aid in healing. You can also try this stretching routine to help loosen things up:
Lying on the floor on your back with knees bent, feet flat on the ground, take time to feel the spots that have tension and relax them. Lay on the floor and feel everything relax.
Then, press your lower back to the floor (cat pose) and relax. Then, do it again for 8 to 10 times.
Now, do the reverse. Bring your lower back up (cow pose) to increase the space between your lower back and the floor. Do this about 8 to 10 times.
Lay there and relax.
Do the above again, the cat and the cow.
The above can also be done while sitting in a chair. Try it!
Take care of yourself. Advocate for yourself. You are your keeper.
I don’t know why but today I’m in somewhat of a philosophical mood. I was recently told that I should write a book as I’m a philosopher. I was in Okinawa Japan recently and had the charge of 5 kids to make sure they remained unscathed on their first voyage away from home, almost half way around the world. Devinda, a really smart 16 year old was in a group of 3, him and 2 boys that are 14 years old (constantly arguing who is the oldest of the 2). One day while talking about responsibility I brought up how he has his whole life in front of him and is now experiencing something that many people will never have the chance to. We talked about other things too and that is when he told me I should write a book. It kind of made me laugh. Devinda’s an awesome person. Mark my words, I know one day a lot of people will know the name Devinda Epaarachchi.
I had to laugh when I heard that though. I don’t look at myself that way, having words of wisdom, I’m just some guy who tries to help when and where I can. And I can’t see writing a book. Who would read that?!
So what am I going to write about today? Today’s subject is goals. You have to have them. You do! And they don’t have to be lofty goals either, just goals no matter how small.
A goal can be running 10k in a race. A goal can be running a marathon race. Those are somewhat big goals, right? To many yes, but to others no. A goal can be something a basic as focusing on a body part that you feel needs improvement. Maybe you want bigger shoulders, or larger legs? Take that and make it a goal.
Let’s look at larger shoulders as a goal. What does that mean, larger shoulders? Wider, bulkier, stronger? First thing is to define the goal. Let’s define this one:
Larger shoulders: I want the 3 heads of my shoulders to be defined and larger than they are now.
That’s it. The goal has now been defined. Shoulders larger in size and also having the 3 muscles that make up the shoulder clearly defined. So now what, what is next now that I have a goal?
You have to put a plan into effect but it needs to be a good plan, something, a plan that will get you what you want. If I were to break down this goal into a plan it would probably look like this:
What exercises target the 3 heads of the shoulder, the anterior (front), the laterial (the side) and the posterior (the rear, the most neglected of the 3)?
How do I do these exercises to work these muscles?
Document current strength doing these exercises: how many reps/sets and how much weight?
Photos: What do my shoulders currently look like? Take pictures but be sure to take them in a controlled environment so when you take photos later on you can compare knowing the environment such as lighting is the same and your results can be compared realistically
Duration. What is the duration of the goal? Do I want bigger shoulders in 8 weeks? Is this a realistic time frame?
Does this help make things clear? Some of it may not be. Let’s look at duration. Do you know what is a realistic time frame to reach your goal? Now, if you want crazy big shoulders 8 weeks may not be long enough, you may need 26 weeks for your goal. If you aren’t sure, hire a personal trainer to help you out. They can provide realistic targets to your goal.
Goals, I think, are good ways to keep motivated. I find also they help to keep the energy up, they help you to get through those times where you feel you are just spinning your wheels. Goals help to add purpose to your workouts.
Goals can also help you get through those times that are tough. It may help you focus on a specific thing to help you get your mind off of other things.
I’m no philosopher. I really don’t think I have any words of wisdom. If this article helps you become what you want to become than I’m happy for you.
Do you have your goal? Is it something you really want? Are you going to do what you need to to make it happen?
I hope you will. You are awesome and I have never doubted that you have what you need to do it.
Stretching before exercising, specifically static stretching (no movement) will hinder your performance. Then why do people static stretch before working out? Good question. I see it often myself. Classics such as crossing an arm across the body to stretch the shoulder to the good ole hamstring stretch while sitting on the floor. But kidding aside if there is any stretching to be done before working out it should be only dynamic stretching.
Let’s look at static stretching. Why do we do it? Static stretching is done to become more flexible, to lengthen short muscles which in turn should help in injury prevention whereas dynamic stretching (stretching with movement such as crossing your arms back and forth) helps to lengthen muscles but more importantly warms up the muscles and tendons.
So why is this a bad thing to do before working out? Because of the strain you are putting on your muscles. With this strain you are actually decreasing muscle strength. Studies have shown that the decrease in strength can be upwards of 30%! Yikes!
To prepare for your workout, or event a proper preparation should help increase performance not negatively impact performance. It should do this by warming up the tendons and muscles thus loosening them and increasing the range of motion. Warm muscles and tendons use oxygen from the blood stream more efficiently and also use glycogen, stored fuel, more efficiently. Static stretching on the other hand can leave strained muscles weakened for up to 30 minutes because of the stress put on them.
It’s like almost anything we do. Unless we have educated ourselves on the matter we are usually doing things that we learned a long time ago by someone with good intentions but not educated in the area. I think, and I may be wrong, that a lot of things we do when it comes to working out, running, swimming, biking, or any physical activity unless at an elite level where there are professional coaches and trainers, were learned from school. Learned from the gym teacher who might have been a great football player, or might have done well in track when she or he were in school years ago but doesn’t have formal training in these areas. So they pass on what they learned years ago by someone who was great playing football, or might have done well in track….
Do you get the point? This is why I became a certified personal trainer when I received the rank of Nidan (2nd level) black belt and started running students through workouts more frequently. I felt I would be doing a disservice to our students to be doing the same thing my teacher did and that didn’t sit well with me. I wanted our students to be the best they could be, properly prepared to excel physically and mentally.
But you might be saying what’s the big deal? I still get in my workout regardless. This is correct. For some people showing up, doing the workout is all they need. But to others it’s more than that. Also, think of it in another light. Success is a great motivator. I really believe that you are your own competition. You compete against yourself every time you workout. How many burpees did you do, how quick were you when doing bag work. How we workout could determine if we workout again. If you constantly feel like you are not improving then it could get tough to find the motivation to go back and workout again. But, if you performance is increasing because of doing a lot of right things than who does not like that? Success is a great motivator and this is why I believe in keeping a journal of workouts. It shows you the growth you have made and with seeing that how can that not motivate you?
Static stretch after your workout. Dynamically stretch before your workout to warm up your muscles, tendons and to dynamically lengthen the muscles through movement.
I wrote an earlier post that commented that I don’t believe in ‘super foods’ rather I believe that we should focus on the vast majority of the foods we eat being healthy and in that sense they are super. The reason I make this differentiation is that sometimes people look to super foods to fix their issues that they have from not following a healthy diet and or not exercising. To me, it’s kind of like one of those super new leak fixers you see advertised on TV that when using this product you no longer have to pay a plumber to come to your house to fix the leak, just slap this amazing leak fixer for $29.99 on and your leak is forever fixed! If you have ever used one of these you know it didn’t work and you had to then pay a plumber to come out and fix the leak and so much for that super fix. Same with food. People look to Turmeric to prevent cancer, they look to Quinoa to get the super protein they need, they look to probiotics in their yogurt to have a healthy gut all while still consuming foods that cause cancer, the wrong type of protein and cause gut issues. If you aren’t addressing the main problem than these ‘super foods’ more than likely aren’t going to help you.
Having said all that I want to write a few words on a spice that until recently, I thought there was only one type. If you have addressed your diet and are eating healthy let’s look at cinnamon and what it can do for you both for your health and other areas too.
Who doesn’t like the taste of cinnamon; on oatmeal, on toast with Agave or honey, some people even put it in their coffee.
Native to Ceylon, Sri Lanka, cinnamon dates back in Chinese writings to 2800 B.C. Its botanical name is a derivative of Hebraic and Arabic term meaning fragrant spice plant, amomon. Many years ago 350 grams of cinnamon could be exchanged for over 5 kg of silver, about fifteen times the value of silver per weight. Cinnamon used to be used to preserver meat, to treat coughing and sore throats.
Today, cinnamon is used mainly as a spice added to enhance foods. But, lets look at some benefits, and also some not so good things about cinnamon.
It’s an antioxidant: this protects your body from damage done by free radicals. Free radicals are toxic byproducts of oxygen metabolism that can cause significant damage to cells and tissues in a process called oxidative stress. Alcohol, cooked and processed meats, oil that becomes oxidized during storage are examples of how free radicals can form in your body. Cinnamon is so high in antioxidants it outranks all other foods even garlic and oregano.
Anti-inflammatory: Inflammation is good in that it helps to repair the body from damage and also helps in fighting infection but too much inflammation can cause arthritis, and also some cancers. Studies have shown that cinnamon has potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Heart benefits: Cinnamon has shown to reduce the LDC cholesterol (the one you want low) while not affecting the good HDL cholesterol. In animal studies cinnamon has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Improves insulin sensitivity: This is really important if you are active and looking for ways to improve performance. Insulin is key in how your body processes glucose to fuel your body for all things including exercise. This is why Tabata is so useful for improving performance because one of the benefits is it increases insulin sensitivity. Looking for a performance boost? Save your money on buying expensive supplements and instead add some cinnamon to your food.
The right type
Now comes a very important part. I think most people aren’t aware of this as I have never heard of this from anyone: there is not just one type of cinnamon. As mentioned earlier, cinnamon came from Ceylon, Sri Lanka. The cinnamon you are probably using did not. It’s a cheaper version mainly found in grocery stores and it’s Cassia cinnamon, not Ceylon cinnamon. Is there a difference? Yes both in taste and what it contains.
While Cassia cinnamon is safe to eat, too much can lead to health issues due to a compound in it called coumarin. Eating too much coumarin may harm your liver and increase the risk of cancer. Also, eating too much Cassia cinnamon has been linked to many other side affects such as mouth sores, low blood sugar and may negatively interact with other medications.
A teaspoon of Cassia cinnamon contains approx. 5mg of coumarin while Ceylon cinnamon contains only trace amounts. The recommended daily coumarin limit is approximately 0.05 mg/pound (0.1 mg/kg) of body weight, or 5 mg per day for a 130-pound (60-kg) person. This means that just one to one and a half teaspoons of Cassia cinnamon could put you over the daily limit.
Lastly, Ceylon cinnamon, in my opinion tastes a little subtler and sweeter than Cassia cinnamon. To me, I don’t find it as harsh if you happen to add a little too much to the foods you are eating.
If you aren’t eating cinnamon, try it. Get some Ceylon cinnamon, the good stuff and add it to your shake, soup, your chili or whatever else you want to add it to. If not for the benefits, do it for the taste because it tastes awesome.
I’ve written posts on this topic in the sense of the individual things that can be done to keep on track to a goal be it your goal to lose weight, increase strength or flexibility, run a marathon, or any health related goal you may have. Keeping journals, measuring the food you eat, etc. Without a plan, how do you know if you will end up where you are trying your best to get to?
And it can be broken down into 2 parts, I think: the planning that is needed to get you there ready to rock, and the planning for the actual event itself.
If it’s a sanctioned event such as a marathon, 10k run or something similar where these things happen all the time, all around the world than there should be a wealth of information available to help you plan to get ready for this event. Blogs, podcasts are plentiful for these events with lots of info on what you need to do to be successful and also information geared towards what can be done to complete the event in your desired duration.
If what your event is not a standard event such as above, try to find something similar. If you are participating in an event that is 5 hours long and thus classified as an endurance event than try to find something similar. You could probably equate this to a marathon, or maybe even a triathlon. Use training information for these events to help with your planning.
The lead up
I recently wrote a post on this. Taking it easy for the week or two weeks before your event. Seems contradictory that you’ve worked so hard to get ready for your event that you would take it easy leading up to the event. How could that help you out? With hard training comes many demands on the body. Muscles breaking down, less time for the body to recover due to lack of rest/sleep, running an oxygen deficit.
EPOC. Do you know the word? I sometimes make the mistake of forgetting that something I understand doesn’t mean that others understand it. Let’s take EPOC as an example, Excess Post exercise Oxygen Consumption. In simple terms, when your exercise routine consists of high intense interval training you put your body in a state of oxygen deficit. Hard to believe when we breathe in oxygen all the time. If fact, this oxygen deficit can last up to 30 hours! This is 30 hours of time that you will not perform at your best. You will perform fine, but not at your best, and you want to be your best, you want kill this event and have that feeling that you killed it. Nothing like a big confidence booster knowing you did your best and your best is the best you’ve ever been.
So I guess my point is you need to take it easy that last week or two so you are in optimal condition to do this. This doesn’t mean you stop everything, it means working at a moderate pace so you are still moving and still active but the intensity is less, about 60% of what you are used to. Also since you will be burning less calories due to the lesser work load, you shouldn’t worry about running a calorie deficit. You might even see some gains in muscle size and strength because of this. And if you aren’t sure you are eating enough, consume more food as long as it’s not processed.
And don’t worry. Don’t worry about working less than you have been. You’ve put in the hard work the last number of months and now is the time to slow down and let the body recover so it’s 100% ready.
Well, actually I’ll start on the day before. Try to do what you normally do. What I mean is don’t just sit around the house. Try to keep moving, eat well and if the opportunity is there, do what it is you are planning to do the next day. This keeps the body moving, lubricated, prevents injury due to lack of movement, keeps the mind busy and will also help you settle down that night and get a good night’s sleep. Consume whole foods that are plant based, drink plenty of water so you have your fuel tank full and are also fully hydrated. Pack up the gear you need for tomorrow instead of doing this in the morning. Double check that you have everything you need packed. And err on the side of caution. Better to have too many gels, electrolytes, and food then coming up short. Now is the time to make sure everything is ready to go, not in the morning where if you can’t find something this will bring on undue stress and is not a good way to start the day of your event.
When the morning comes, be sure to eat a quality breakfast. Steel cut oats with berries on top is a really good choice. The oats and berries will give you the carbs and the fiber will also slow down digestion and ensure you have the fuel you need. Try not to load up on protein as you need carbs to fuel you. Protein will come later, after the event to help rebuild the damage that has been done.
While you are waiting to leave for your event, as your breakfast digests, visualize yourself completing this event as you want to complete it. In your mind picture yourself being the best ever, no mistakes, perfection, poetry in motion. This might be the hardest thing to do for you. We all have doubts about ourselves and often times this is the voice we listen to in our head. We push out the voice that says you did well, the voice that says you are awesome and amplify the voice that says you could have done better, you sucked at that, you were awful and don’t deserve this.
Why is it ok to tell ourselves these things but not ok to say the same things to someone else? Why is it we are so good at disrespecting ourselves? Self criticism is OK if it’s constructive but it becomes damaging when it is not based on reality but instead is driven by other reasons, reasons which are usually emotionally based and thus not constructive. Trust me on this one, I know. I struggle with this all the time and I think I always will.
And when the time comes, and you are an hour, two, three into your event keep telling yourself this: You do deserve this, You can do this, You are incredible and You will do this. Mistakes will happen but don’t dwell on them. Forget them right away. The more you pay attention to them the more you will break down the positivity you have built. Set milestones for the event be it time based or event based. As you complete each milestone, remind yourself that you are doing this, you are in it for good!
I know, it’s all bullshit, right? Woo woo bullshit. But why is it we throw out the food that was left out too long and has mold on it. Why not eat it? Because it’s poison and will make us sick, possibly even kill us. Then why do we let ourselves consume poison food for our mind? Throw that poison in the garbage and eat the positive food. As I’ve said before, the mind will quit before the body will. Keep your mind as strong as it can be.